Sunday, 5 April 2020

Exploring data

In these unusual times when we're restricted to garden ringing, it's a good opportunity to look at our data and try some interpretation.

I am by no means an expert but have had a couple of previous attempts with the Bullfinches and Willow Warblers I catch at Goosedale Fisheries (which can be found in the 2014 and 2016 group reports) so I thought I would update these for the blog.

Unfortunately, the annual survival estimates were so poor I don't want to include them. The numbers of new birds ringed is both encouraging and disappointing at the same time (see graph) and it's important to poimt out that these figures can't be viewed as definite population trends over such a short period and in such a random study.

I thought I would also look at the sex ratio of the new Bullfinches caught. You can see variation over the 5 years but interestingly after the study period the totals are almost the same. The unsexed birds were juvenile birds still in their juvenile plumage.

This type of analysis is not going to re-write science, but it does add another dimension to understanding 'our' birds and how they are doing.

Give it a go!

Mick P


Saturday, 7 March 2020

Brackenhurst Ringing Demo, Wednesday 4 March

It was third time lucky. We finally managed to deliver a ringing demonstration with the students at Brackenhurst on Wednesday, in what seemed to be the first calm day in like forever! Our team was Cliff, Gary, Kevin, Louise and myself. Weather was bright, cold and calm; almost disconcerting...

We managed 63 birds; just over half were Yellowhammers. Oldest retraps were a Blue Tit (2017), Reed Bunting (2018) and two Yellowhammers (both 2018).

We handled 67 birds (48 new/19 retrap) which comprised: Blue Tit 7/6, Coal Tit -/1, Goldcrest 2/1, Great Tit 3/2, Reed Bunting 1/3, Robin 2/1, Yellowhammer 32/5, Wren 1/-.


Saturday, 22 February 2020

Cormorant movements

I've just had details of a couple of our colour-ringed Cormorants which were spotted yesterday (21 Feb) alive and well at Havergate Island, near Orford in Suffolk. The first had been ringed in August 2016 at Attenborough and has been seen near Boreham, Dungeness and the Wirral during the intervening period. The second had been ringed at Attenborough in April 2018 and has been slightly less adventurous, having been seen on five additional occasions on the Suffolk coast up until now.


Saturday, 8 February 2020

Brackenhurst Update

I’ve not made as many visits to the Brackenhurst feeders as I would have liked this winter. A combination of ringer availability, the weather and commitments elsewhere has restricted opportunities. However, here’s an update on recent visits:

Wednesday 20 November Team – Duncan, Kev and myself.

Oldest retraps were a Robin from 2014 & a 2012 Blue Tit.

Birds handled (new/retrap 31/24): Blackbird 3/-, Blue Tit 6/11, Coal Tit 1/1, Goldcrest 1/-, Great Tit 5/10, House Sparrow 3/-, Redwing 9/-, Robin 3/2.

Wednesday 4 December Team – Cliff and myself.

Oldest retrap was a Robin from 2015.

Birds handled (new/retrap 34/18): Blackbird 1/1, Blue Tit 1/6, Bullfinch –/1, Chaffinch 1/1, Fieldfare 1/-, Great Tit -/3, Long-tailed Tit 4/1, Redwing 25/-, Robin –/5, Song Thrush 1/-.

Friday 27 December Team – Pete, Tom and myself.

Oldest retraps were a Robin from 2014 and a 2016 Blue Tit.

Birds handled (new/retrap 34/18): Blackbird 1/-, Blue Tit 4/12, Chaffinch -/1, Coal Tit –/1, Goldcrest –/1, Great Tit 2/8, Redwing 4/-, Robin –/1, Treecreeper –/1, Yellowhammer 2/1.

Tuesday 21 January Team – Kev, Duncan and myself.

Oldest retrap was a Great Tit from 2016.

Birds handled (new/retrap 9/13): Blackbird 1/1, Blue Tit 4/3, Chaffinch -/1, Dunnock 1/2, Great Tit 3/4, Robin –/2, Treecreeper –/1.

Overall – it looks like tits and Robins had a decent breeding season last year and the mild weather means the buntings aren't coming to the feeders.

Jim Lennon

 Redwing, Goldcrest & Treecreeper, Brackenhurst, 27 December 2019 (P Leonard)

Thursday, 16 January 2020

Mapperly Update

It has been a busy two months with birthdays, holidays and Christmas…but I have managed to squeeze three brief ringing sessions at Mapperley Wood. Whilst the sessions have not been particularly long, nor the catches high, the variety has been nice. Another Male Sparrowhawk found the net and the first Redwing for the site was caught. My three-year-old son also joined me for his first ringing session as official empty-bird-bag carrier.

Catches are as follows: (New/Retrap)

Blue Tit 5/0, Coal Tit 0/3, Great Tit 2/1, Long Tailed Tit 5/0, Sparrowhawk 1/0, Dunnock 1/0

Blue Tit 4/1, Coal Tit 2/0, Great Tit 1/0, Long Tailed Tit 2/1, Nuthatch 0/1, Redwing 0/1, Robin 1/0

Blackbird 1/0, Blue Tit 5/0, Great Tit 5/0, Long Tailed Tit 1/1, Dunnock 1/1, Robin 1/0


 Sparrowhawk, Nuthatch, Redwing and juv Phillips (A. Phillips)

Monday, 13 January 2020

Colwick Garden Update

Garden ringing continues in Colwick on a semi-regular basis, and it's been good to have a full year on it in 2019 to see the comings and goings through the seasons. It's been interesting (and frustrating!) to see how birds that are quite numerous such as Chaffinch and Blackbird are quick to clear off as soon as they get the faintest whiff of a mist net, whilst other species seem to be a lot less wary, particularly Goldfinch.

As previously noted, Goldfinch make up the bulk of the captures, with nearly 200 caught since August 2018, including a few that had been ringed over at Holme Pierrepont, and one of mine has been caught over there too. Predictably, tits bulk up the rest of the numbers, and it has been nice to regularly catch Coal Tits. I managed to catch one of the few Reed Buntings that visit the garden in late winter, and several wintering Blackcaps too. I aim to continue as I have been (though the birth of my son will likely reduce net hours!) [Ed- CONGRATULATIONS TOM!], and also to continue to work out ways to better place my nets to reduce spooking the birds!

Current totals at the end of 2019 are below.


New Retrap Total
Blackbird 3 0 3
Blackcap 3 1 4
Blue Tit 65 34 99
Chaffinch 5 0 5
Coal Tit 16 5 21
Dunnock 9 7 16
Goldcrest 2 0 2
Goldfinch 198 15 213
Great Tit 29 5 34
Greenfinch 11 0 11
House Sparrow 7 0 7
Long-tailed Tit 24 3 27
Reed Bunting 1 0 1
Robin 5 0 5
Woodpigeon 2 0 2
Wren 3 0 3
  383 70 453

Monday, 30 December 2019

Help Attenborough Nature Reserve!

The group have just donated to the appeal to buy and save Attenborough Nature Reserve. The Wildlife Trust is not far off their target, but every last penny is gratefully received. Please help by donating here:

Tuesday, 24 December 2019

Monday, 2 December 2019

Sutton Bonington, Sunday 1 December

The first December visit of the winter to the feeding site today. The team consisted of Holly, Sue, Sarah, Maria, Alex, Mick T, Gary and me. We have been blessed with pretty calm weather at this site so far this winter and today was no exception, so we put up another couple of rather exposed nets against a lower hedge to try for a better result with Redwing and it did the trick with 36 caught. The feeding site was pretty quiet again but the overall catching rate was steady throughout the morning. We ended with a catch of 77 including 20 retraps, made up of (new/retrap): Blackbird 1/0, Redwing 36/0, Robin 1/1, Dunnock 2/1, Wren 1/0, Blue Tit 2/12, Great Tit 1/6, Bullfinch 1/0, Chaffinch 3/0, Greenfinch 6/0, House Sparrow 3/0. The Bullfinch is only the second we have ringed at the site. The oldest retrap was a Blue Tit from 2016.


Saturday, 30 November 2019

Barn Owl - This is Your Life

Whilst unsuccessfully searching for Long-eared Owls last Sunday evening, Don Pritchett and I caught a local Barn Owl for which we now have an interesting life history:
  • 2014 – ringed as chick at Gamston, Nottingham
  • 2016 – bred and reared 3 young ringed in Orston
  • 2017 – bred and reared 2 young ringed in Orston
  • 2018 – bred with 6 small chicks/eggs (next check was delayed so not sure if she failed, but may explain move in 2019)
  • 2019 – caught twice breeding at Elton Park by another ringer
  • November 2019 - netted in Orston
As is often the case, we tend to know a bit more about the females as we catch more regularly in nestboxes.

Whilst out we also noted hundreds of thrushes roosting in the hedges, and several Woodcock and Snipe were nearby.


Monday, 25 November 2019

Sutton Bonington, Sunday 24 November

Fourth visit of the winter to the feeding site today. The team consisted of Holly, Sue, Duncan, Mick T and me. The weather was calm and very overcast. We again tried the Redwing tape first thing and it attracted a great number of birds into the copse but unfortunately most would not drop down low enough to catch. There were hundreds of thrushes passing overhead in parties during the first hour or two after dawn. The site was quiet again and catching was slow but fairly steady throughout the morning and we did get the first Great Spotted Woodpecker of the winter.

We ended with a catch of 33 including 14 retraps, made up of (new/retrap): Great Spotted Woodpecker 1/0, Redwing 8/0, Long-tailed Tit 0/2, Blue Tit 5/5, Great Tit 1/6, Coal Tit 1/0, Chaffinch 1/1, Greenfinch 1/0, House Sparrow 1/0, Reed Bunting 0/1. The oldest retrap was a Blue Tit from 2015.


 Blue Tit & Great Spotted Woodpecker (S. Lakeman)

Saturday, 23 November 2019

Sutton Bonington, Sunday 17 November

We made the third visit of the winter to the feeding site today. The team comprised Holly, Sarah, Duncan, Mick T and me. The weather was calm and very overcast with intermittent drizzle. We tried the Redwing tape first thing which produced a couple of birds but generally the site was quieter than it had been for the last two visits. Catching was slow but fairly steady throughout the morning and we did get the first Coal Tit, Reed Bunting and Woodpigeon of the winter.

We ended with a catch of 37 including 20 retraps, made up of (new/retrap): Woodpigeon 1/0, Redwing 2/0, Robin 0/1, Dunnock 0/1, Blue Tit 3/7, Great Tit 2/10, Coal Tit 1/0, Chaffinch 3/0, House Sparrow 5/0, Reed Bunting 0/1.

A Brambling was hanging around the top of the trees near the copse but we could not persuade it to come down to the feeders even with the use of a sound lure. The oldest retrap was a Reed Bunting from 2016.


 Coal Tit (K. Hemsley)

Monday, 11 November 2019

November so far...

Sutton Bonington
We made the first visit of the winter to the feeding site on 3 Nov. A few of us had put the feeders up and baited the site a couple of weeks previously. We were not expecting much as the forecast the previous day was not good but for once the forecast was incorrect and the weather was settled and calm. Quite a while after dawn we looked towards the copse and saw a Barn Owl heading across the field and into the trees but of course it avoided the nets there! Catching was steady throughout the morning including plenty of Blue Tits and Great Tits including a leucistic individual. 
We ended with a catch of 54 including 2 retraps, made up of (new/retrap): Robin 1/0, Blue Tit 25/2, Great Tit 11/0, Long-tailed Tit 9/0, Chaffinch 4/0, Goldfinch 1/0, Greenfinch 1/0. The oldest retrap was from 2017.
The second visit was made on 10 Nov, again in good conditions. The first round was very quiet but it picked up slowly as the morning went on and we finished on 56 including 27 retraps, made up of (new/retrap): Robin 1/1, Dunnock 1/0, Blue Tit 10/14, Great Tit 4/8, Long-tailed Tit 6/3, Chaffinch 2/0, Lesser Redpoll 2/0, Greenfinch 0/1, House Sparrow 3/0. Most of the retraps were from the previous week but the oldest was a Long-tailed Tit from 2014.
The teams for these two visits comprised Maria, Alex, Holly, Sarah, Duncan, Mick T, Gary and me.
Ramsdale Park Golf Centre
On 6 Nov Mick T and I made a visit here to try for a few more Redwing. Absolutely perfect conditions but not so many birds around. Catching was slow but steady and we finished on 37 including 1 retrap, made up of (new/retrap): Redwing 19/0, Song Thrush 1/0, Blackbird 5/0, Wren 2/0, Robin 1/1, Blue Tit 3/0, Great Tit 2/0, Greenfinch 2/0, Bullfinch 1/0. The only retrap was a Robin from 2018. Overhead passed 100+ Pink Feet heading south.
 partially leucistic Great Tit, Sutton Bonington, 3 November (K. Hemsley)

Brackenhurst, Saturday 9 November

We made our first visit of the autumn to Brackenhurst on Saturday. We were Sophie, newbie Ella and myself. A slightly late start, but we managed 63 birds. About half of them were juvenile tits, perhaps  suggesting a good breeding season this year. We catch few Bullfinch or Coal Tit here, and today's birds were the first since 2015. Worryingly, we had a Bullfinch with papillomavirus (see picture); it was released unringed. Away from the nets, there were plenty of ‘winter’ thrushes knocking around and pleasingly several Bullfinch.
Oldest retraps were a Chaffinch & Great Tit ringed in 2016, both were adults then and will have been born in 2014 or earlier.
Birds handled included (new/retrap 57/6): Blackbird 3/-, Blue Tit 14/1, Bullfinch 2/-, Chaffinch -/1, Coal Tit 1/-, Dunnock 4/-, Goldcrest 3/-, Goldfinch 2/-, Great Tit 8/4, House Sparrow 5/-, Long-tailed Tit 1/-, Redwing 4/3, Robin 4/-, Treecreeper 2/-, Wren 1/-.


 Bullfinch showing symptoms of Fringilla papillomavirus (J. Lennon)

Thursday, 7 November 2019

Mapperley Wood, Derbyshire, Sunday 27 October

I returned for a second year to Mapperley Wood near Stanton by Dale, just into Derbyshire; my winter ringing site. Located just ten minutes from my home, this site is mix of semi-ancient woodland and wet woodland and is home to Nuthatches, Water Rail and Tawny Owls.

The site is managed by Derbyshire Wildlife Trust and they provide seed during the winter months – topped up by myself.

I only set two nets, one 12m and one 6m close to the feeder. For a quick three hour session I was rewarded with 22 birds of 10 species, including the first Nuthatch of the winter and second-year male Sparrowhawk that blundered into the net not long after putting them up.

Totals (new/recapture): Blue Tit 2/1, Bullfinch 1/0, Coal Tit 1/0, Dunnock 2/0, Great Tit 6/2, Long-tailed Tit 1/2, Nuthatch 1/0, Robin 1/0, Sparrowhawk 1/0 and Wren 1/0.